Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament

Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament 2Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament

Picking the right puppy temperament is an important part of buying a Golden Retriever. You’re probably not exactly like your siblings (thank goodness, right?).

And no two puppies are alike, either–even from the same litter. Let’s see how you can find the puppy who will fit right into your family like “it was meant to be.”

Calm Puppy = Calm Adult

If you want a calm, relaxed adult dog, choose a calm, relaxed puppy. Check for these qualities:

  • Stability
  • Ability to calm himself
  • Touch sensitivity
  • Forgiveness
  • Noise tolerance
  • Attachment to people

That’s actually not as difficult as it sounds, if you apply the following simple tests.

Stability–Just Right!

Is that cute Golden Retriever puppy leaping at your face, nipping your nose, yanking on your shoelaces?

You might want to skip over him.

That kind of energy can be hard to live with.

Skip any puppies that cower in the corner, too.

Instead, choose the pup who comes right up to you, doesn’t mouth you too much, and isn’t frantic.

Ability to Calm Down On His Own.

Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament calm

Cradle a pup upside down in your arms like a baby.

Does he struggle? Does he mouth?

Struggling that increases and mouthing that becomes frantic are signs that he can’t calm himself down. Skip him.

Also skip the puppy who lies stiff in your arms.

This scared little puppy temperament probably won’t mix well with children who want to pick him up and play with him.

Instead, you’ll be happier choosing a Golden Retriever puppy who lies in your arms relaxed and happy, at least for a little while.  After all, it’s normal for puppies to want to be in constant motion during their waking hours.

Testing For Touch Sensitivity.

Have you ever wondered how to pick a puppy that will tolerate the pokings and proddings of young children?

What about the ever-popular game of “dress-up” like the one Peaches is enjoying here with my daughter Sarah and a friend?

Try this: Pick up a puppy and take hold of the skin between his toes. Apply pressure until you get a response.

Does he bite at your hand? Does he scream like he’s being murdered? Release pressure as soon as you get a response. Skip over any pup who immediately screams or uses his mouth to stop you.

Instead, pick the one that whines a bit, pulls away, or hardly seems to notice. He’s the pup that won’t mind being accidentally stepped on or bumped into from time to time.

Forgiveness Is a Good Dog Trait, Too.

Forgiveness is measured after you release his foot. Does he immediately relax and maybe start licking you? That’s the right response.

If he seems distrustful or withdrawn, skip him. An unforgiving pup is almost always trouble.

Things are bound to happen to your new puppy, especially in a busy household, so forgiveness is critical.

Noise Tolerance–Got Kids?

Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament Noise ToleranceNoise tolerance is an important puppy temperament factor if you have children. Dogs who are frightened of noises can turn every toddler-related crash and every noise-making toy into a major event.

Our Peaches (seen here checking out a toy truck) loved the noisy excitement of a household with kids. Most Goldens tend to be that way–but not all of them.

Here’s a good way to find out how your pup will react to noise. Drop a set of keys near the pups. Some pups will startle and then investigate. Others won’t even notice. This latter bunch would be good choices for noisy households. Skip the pups who run for cover and stay there.

If you’re choosing a Golden Retriever puppy to be a hunting dog, steer clear of this cowering pup, as he may well prove to be hopelessly gun-shy.

Attachment to People.

Sit with all the pups for ten minutes or so. Look for the puppy who stays near you.

Any pup who doesn’t even come over to say hello within a minute should be avoided.

Look for those that respond when you clap your hands or whistle. You should be able to entice one of those cute Golden Retriever puppies to follow you.

Bold or Shy?

In most litters, there’s one little guy who leaves the pack and heads straight towards you.

He’s not saying, “There you are! We were meant to be together!” (Sorry to burst your bubble!)

It’s usually because he’s simply the boldest, most outgoing pup in the litter. If that’s the puppy temperament you want, he’s your guy.

On the other hand, if he’s also the one who’s continually shoving his littermates out of the way, you might want to avoid this bully.

One pup may be hiding shyly in the corner. This wallflower is the sensitive one of the bunch. This little guy or gal may be happiest in a gentle, quiet family–perhaps with older children or no children at all.

Both excessively timid and overly bold puppies are usually more challenging to train. If you’re a bit limited in either time or training experience, you may be better off going for the happy, responsive Golden Retriever puppy in the middle of these two extremes of puppy temperament.

Scared or Curious?

Golden Retriever Puppy Temperament touchNext, take a few of the prospects individually away from their littermates. Steer clear of the puppies that immediately want to return to the whelping box or look distressed in their new surroundings.

Look for the pups that start to explore their new environment and are precocious to the point of getting into trouble.

Puppy Temperament Testing.

After you’ve narrowed the field a bit, you should do a little puppy temperament testing on the individual puppy you’re thinking of taking home.

A favorite exercise with a young pup is to gently roll him over onto his back and then lightly restrain him with a hand on his chest. Spend some time with the pup first, so that this isn’t his initial introduction to you.

Let your hand rest lightly on him until he begins to try to get up, and then use just enough pressure to keep him from doing so.

“What Do I Do Now?”.

There are a lot of different ways he can respond once he’s over on his back and figures out he can’t get up when he wants to.

Some puppies will squirm a bit and mouth your hand lightly. That’s a perfectly reasonable response that shouldn’t concern you in the least.

But ask yourself: Do the puppy’s nips get harder? Hmmmm–time to think hard about this pup, if you have a house full of children.

Does the pup never stop trying to get up, while his littermate gives up quickly and passively waits for you to let him up?

Which puppy temperament you prefer of these two depends on what you’re looking for in an adult dog.

If you’re choosing a Golden Retriever puppy to be a search-and-rescue dog or a nationally competitive performance dog, you want the pup who never gives up.

However, the more passive littermate might be a better choice for a family who just wants a furry friend to hang around with the kids in the backyard.

Use Puppy Temperament to Help You Choose Wisely.

Though all Golden Retrievers have temperaments that are among the most family-friendly in the dog kingdom, each Golden is unique and special in his own way.

As you take your time getting to know each puppy in a Golden litter, keep this in mind: There’s one out there that’s “just right” for you and your family. He’s just waiting for you to find him and take him home.





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